Sixth EU Framework
Programme - Priority 7

Project Summary

The primary aim of this three year (May 2004 - June 2007) and eleven country study (B, D, EST, F, FIN, GB, I, IRL, LT, N, RO) was to better understand the daily news machinery of reporting Europe through the still most decisive journalistic media in Europe, i.e. newspapers and television. What are the general routines, the decision-making grounds, and the basic frameworks within professional journalism as well as in the communication institutions of the European Union to produce routine news material for the European public?

This international project, titled Adequate Information Management in Europe (AIM) is one of the few analyses dealing with journalism and the media within the larger research area of "Citizens and democracy in a knowledge based society" of the scientific 6th framework programme of the European Union.

A central goal of this research was, thus, to assess the media's impact on the development of (a) European public sphere(s). Hence, the focus was on actors (EU institutions and media organizations as well as journalists, correspondents and editors on European, national, regional levels), on mechanisms (structures and processes of news management), and on ways of theoretical understanding (issues of the European public sphere and the meta-level of journalism practice).

In the centre of attention of the researchers from the eleven participating countries was how the mass media produce EU coverage in the context of diverse journalistic cultures and professional standards. The project was based on two levels: First, it analyzed the practical conditions that determine whether an EU issue is set on the news agenda or not (News Agenda Analysis). Secondly, it dealt with the intrinsically stated norm of European political life that access to EU information and journalistic observation and critique - within a context of pluralism - constitutes an essential part of a vital democracy. It is the latter notion that spurns the theoretical and practical debate concerning (a) European public sphere(s). Thus, there is a direct link of the project to current discussions concerning the aim to enhance the openness, transparency, accountability, and legitimacy of the political system of the EU. And there are repercussions concerning questions whether this might not only concern an elite group of intellectuals, but the European citizens as such.

The achievements, the effectiveness, and the shortcomings of mass media and their structures in Europe, thus, are of crucial importance to the state of the European polity at large. The AIM project has arrived at an interim assessment concerning this state within the eleven countries focusing on the sector of professional journalism and its role.

The major results and the context and working approach are outlined in short notes in alphabetical order.

AIM Project Overview - A to Z